Daniele Vouga Duggan, Discover Children's Forum

Describe your role
I am responsible for managing and developing the Discover Children’s Forum and other participation projects developed by Discover in the local community. The Discover Children’s Forum is a group of children aged 5 to 13 that have been involved in the design of the Discover Centre from the beginning and now advise the Discover’s management team on how to make Discover a fun, entertaining and educational place for children. I also work with young people in Stratford, East London, trying to promote a dialogue between children and the developers of Stratford City and the Olympics, to ensure that these children have a say in the changes happening to their local area.

What makes a good participation worker?
The ability to communicate with both adults and children. It is important to be committed the young people and to be enthusiastic about their projects to inspire the other members of your team. It is fundamental to be flexible, accessible and creative to deal with all the obstacles. A good PW is always researching for new ways of promoting young people’s voice.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?
From my personal experience it has been sometimes a lack of interest from decision makers in involving children in the process or when the interest exists is the poor understanding of the participation and consultation processes itself.

What are the benefits?
Involving children in the decision-making processes allows them to exercise personal and social responsibility. They grow in confidence and develop a better understanding of their environment. By involving the young people and including their views in different communities’ initiatives, we can improve children’s provisions more effectively.

What is effective participation?
Participation is effective when young people are seen as part of the community and have their opinions respected by others. When they are involved in decision making processes at all levels, when it concerns children’s welfare.

What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?
Invest time and energy in the relationship with the group of young people you will be working with. I found that with a good ground work and a safe environment the children feel more confident to tell you what they really think. It is important to have lots of fun, celebrate achievements and feedback on a project development. Involve children in planning the projects, including the fun bits. Be honest and clear about the roles in the project and what can be achieved. Be enthusiastic about your projects and disseminate your participation/inclusion methods to as many people as possible.

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB